How many of you have experienced a project where deadlines were not met, some employees resisted or did not really accept the transformation? I have witnessed these situations myself: occurring as a result of a company replacing an outdated IT system, reorganising departments or, most severely, restructuring. The results are the same whenever employees feel bypassed or not listened to. Also, they may not understand the rationale behind the ongoing transformation. If they lack understanding, they will not back the transformation or may block its efforts. This often results in delaying the change agenda or negatively impacting the potential positive outcomes of the transformation. So how should companies approach change management?

Today, HR leaders such as Susan Peters, Senior Vice President, Human Resources at General Electric, are transforming HR to deliver an employee experience that is human centered, personalised and compelling, leading to purposeful, productive and meaningful work. In my opinion, companies should also find ways to enrich their employee experience in the transformation. This would contribute towards a successful transformation.

I recall my experience working in a branch of a multinational energy company. The transformation of this company consisted of building a new organisational structure, changing the ways of working and repositioning the branch at a new level within the Group. However the company first found themselves facing social tension, disengagement, misunderstanding of the new organisation and its strategic ambition. We advised our client to adopt a different approach to its transformation and apply Capgemini Consulting’s value proposition to leading change: the New Change Deal (NCD).

Let me give you an explanation of its principles. Instead of regarding change as a peripheral work stream of the transformation project, change should be fully integrated across the project, enabling better visioning, empowerment, agility and engagement. To ensure these conditions are met, five major components must be in place:

  1. Share the vision of the history and direction of the change with the employees
  2. Experiment and convert the vision into operational objectives and prototypes
  3. Facilitate sharing between employees; communicate tangible results and experiences
  4. Personalise the learning process and making it more interactive
  5. Monitor the organisation’s progress throughout the ramping up of change by taking the pulse of the employees’ feelings

Each of these five components includes key milestones which rely on solutions that act as accelerators in fostering engagement.

Within this project, NCD facilitated the new approach.

  • We clearly defined the vision with senior management. The focus was to articulate the strategic business “WHY” this new organisation, the main structure choices and new roles. Key cultural shifts were also explained and articulated by the Director, and given as landmarks for everyone. We also demonstrated how we would work flexibility to adjust the strategy whenever the insights converged towards a different view.
  • The creation of a new stakeholder circle that was closer to the employees, enabled us to convey direct messages to the teams. Managers were key in explaining the ‘what’, the ‘when’ and the ‘how’ of the transformation to their employees and reporting back the employees’ feelings and views to senior management.
  • A network of change agents facilitated the reporting of on-the-ground feedback, thus helping to re-shape the organisation. Engagement surveys and polls had the same purpose in helping to measure the level of engagement and collecting inputs for the assessment of benefits and disadvantages of the existing organisation.
  • Finally, the adoption and sharing of the transformation had to be monitored by a dedicated Change and Communication Manager who followed up action plans ensuring that changes with regard to managerial roles and behaviors were visible and sustainable. Tangible results were frequently communicated to all employees via many channels.

Within ten months, the organisation had progressed from a position, blocked by multiple resistance, to a dynamic one which was firm enough to lead its own strategy, and flexible enough to review it when it was relevant. This experience definitely taught me how companies can reverse a situation in changing their people approach!